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MLK Park: Summer basketball teaching life lessons, reducing community violence

Summer basketball starts June 10
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Posted at 5:00 PM, May 14, 2023

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Two elementary students brought guns to Grand Rapids Public Schools within one week— one of the guns was loaded.

READ MORE: Backpacks banned from GRPS after loaded gun found on 3rd grader

The news hits Derrick "Coach O" Owens, Urban League's Director for the Center for Education Innovation and Youth Development, especially hard.

“Disappointing. Adults are not doing their job. Simply put,” Owens said.

But there's hope. Three adults, who are committed to keeping Martin Luther King Park's summer basketball league a safe place for kids, met with FOX 17 to shoot some hoops— and talk about that hope.

“The basketball is just a tool to get the kids into the park. The tool is really the mind, the parenting and the things that we’re going to be teaching after the basketball is done,” League Operations Manager Zachary Harris explained.

It's a collaborative effort with neighborhood associations and the basketball league, as well as Urban League.

The Grand Rapids Police Department's South Service Captain Cathy Williams says highlighting things like the summer basketball program are important, especially at Martin Luther King Park.

"We really want to provide a safe space for these middle school kids to come to play basketball this summer,” Williams said.

The league kicks off June 10. Parents can call 616-309-5346 or email to sign up their child.

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